Cooperation in energy, trade major focus of Prime Minister's Africa trip
Deepening cooperation in areas of hydrocarbons, maritime security, trade and investment, agriculture and food will be major focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's five-day visit to four key countries of African continent.
India had organised a four-day summit here with African countries in October last year which was attended by representatives of 54 African nations, including heads of state and government of around 40 countries.
In South Africa, the Prime Minister will visit Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.
On the second day of his stay, Modi will undertake a journey by the historic train which was taken by Mahatma Gandhi to Pietermaritzburg. Gandhi was thrown out of the train when he refused to follow the order to move out of a first class compartment in which coolies and non-whites were not allowed to travel. The Prime Minister will take the last 15 kms of the journey to Pietermaritzburg, besides visiting the Pheonix ashram.
His visit to Kenya will be first in 35 years by an Indian Prime Minister, while to Mozambique it will be after a gap of 34 years. It will be a visit to
South Africa by an Indian Prime Minister after 10 years, said Sinha.
He said all the four countries are gateway to a number of landlocked countries in Africa and Indian traders rely heavily on ports of thse countries to export goods.
Sinha said ways to expand security cooperation, particularly in the maritime domain, with the four countries will be a major dimension of the trip. The focus will also be on exploiting the blue economy and increasing the overall trade ties. The blue economy places emphasis on access to necessities such as health and education by implementing a local system of production and consumption based on what you already have.
He said reform of the UN Security Council and India's bid for permanent membership will figure in talks, adding Africa has been supporting New Delhi on it.
India's current trade with Africa is around USD 75 billion and it has granted a whopping USD 7.4 billion for various developmental and capacity building projects in the past four years. India has implemented nearly 140 projects in 41 African countries during the period.
Asked about China's growing activities in Africa, Sinha said the continent has tremendous requirement for infrastructure building and India does not see any "contradiction" as everybody can chip in. At the same time, he said India was not scrambling for minerals and other resources in Africa.
In Mozambique, Modi will have bilateral discussions with President Nyusi, while in South Africa he will have extensive deliberations with President
Jacob Zuma and other senior leaders across the political spectrum.
India is looking at deeper engagement with South Africa in defence manufacturing besides close cooperation in areas of coal gasification and deep mining as the country has expertise in them.
Sinha said contaray to media reports South Africa was supportive of India's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at its pleanary meeting in Seoul last month.
In Tanzania, he will hold talks with President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli on a range of issues, while in Kenya, he will have bilateral discussions with President Kenyatta. India was keen to have deeper sports ties with Kenya, particularly in long-distance running.
The Prime Minister will also address students at the University of Nairobi. He is likely to announce a number of Line of Credits (LoCs).
Modi will address the Indian community in stadiums in both Nairobi and Johannesburg.